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Strong prices buoy SA oil and gas companies


Rising oil and gas prices have helped South Australian companies Beach Energy and Cooper Energy to an improved first half of 2021-22 despite falling production levels.

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Both companies reported their second-quarter activities to the Australian Securities Exchange this week ahead of their first-half reports due next month.

Beach, which posted a $317 million net profit after tax in 2020-21, reported a five per cent decrease in sales volume to 5.48 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe) in the three months to December 31.

However, rising LPG, oil and condensate prices allowed it to increase sales revenue by three per cent on the September quarter to $398 million.

The production decrease was due to a natural field decline in oil production at the Western Flank in South Australia, planned and unplanned maintenance in the  Cooper Basin and Bass Strait.

However, the company delivered its first gas from the offshore development at Otway in Victoria to the Otway Gas Plant.

It also reached a final investment decision with joint venture partner Santos in November on a $220 million carbon capture and storage project at Moomba.

Beach’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Morné Engelbrecht said delivering first gas from the Otway Offshore represented a key milestone for the company.

“This is an exciting time at Beach as we set the key building blocks as part of our strategic production growth target of 28 MMboe in FY24,” he said.

Engelbrecht said reaching FID on the Moomba Carbon Capture and Storage project was also a major achievement for the business.

“Once operational, this project will deliver a material reduction to Beach’s equity emissions and forms a key pillar of our aspiration to reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

“Natural gas will continue to be a critical source of energy supporting the transition to a lower-carbon future.”

Cooper Energy reported a 6 per cent decrease in production and a 4 per cent fall in sales volume for the December quarter to 0.99 MMboe and a 2 per cent fall in revenue to $47.3 million compared with its record September quarter.

It said the reduced production was due to a temporary shutdown of its Otway Basin gas fields during the cut over to its new Athena processing plant in Victoria.

However, the company is on track for a record year for production, sales volume and revenue. For the six months to December 31, production is up 35 per cent to 1.57MMboe, sales volume is up 67 per cent to 2.02 MMboe and revenue is up 96 per cent to $95.4 million on last year.

The company also commenced sales from its Athena Gas Plant in Victoria in December.

Cooper Energy Managing Director David Maxwell said the company continued to build strong momentum with significant milestones achieved in the December quarter.

“The successful commissioning of the Athena Gas Plant was completed in December and is now processing our Casino, Henry and Netherby gas, with work ongoing to optimise the processing rates,” he said.

“Cooper Energy is now an established gas plant operator, creating the opportunity for synergies that complement our offshore gas field expertise and gas sales portfolio position.

“The optimisation of processing at the Orbost Gas Processing Plant has resulted in a higher average processing rate.

“The combination of these events and the reprofiled customer terms for Sole gas sales from 1 January means Cooper Energy can reduce its requirement for third-party gas purchases and increase opportunities for spot gas sales in a tight gas market.”

Cooper Energy’s share price increased by 7 per cent to $0.30 following yesterday’s announcement.

Beach Energy’s share price initially fell 8 per cent following its announcement on Tuesday but recovered those losses to open at $1.41 today.

Beach has a market capitalisation of $3.23 billion and was ranked No.4 in InDaily’s 2021 South Australian Business Index of the state’s top 100 companies.

Cooper Energy has a market capitalisation of about $490 million and was ranked No. 21 in the 2021 South Australian Business Index.

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